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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Reading a 19th century novel on a 21st century phone

When I first got a Kindle I used it a lot. I was on the tube every day and it was a convenient way to read on a crowded train.

Then I stopped using it except when I was travelling. Just wasn't inspired. At the same time I was discovering the joys of secondhand book shopping.

Now I've bought the Eucalyptus e-reading app. It uses a more readable font than the Kindle and the appealing way it turns pages has been described by Nicholson Baker as "voluptuous". None of the jerkiness of the Kindle.

You have to buy the app but then you get access to 20,000 copyright-free works for nothing. So it's Dickens, Austen, Trollope and so on but not Dan Brown. It downloads them to your phone in a second.

I'm finding shortcomings. Unlike the Kindle it doesn't sync across devices so that you can pick up on your iPad at the same place that you left off on your iPhone. Not all the books listed by the Gutenberg Project are actually available to UK users, thanks to the usual copyright jiggery-pokery.

Nevertheless it's a small joy to use and it's been a great help as I plough through Middlemarch while waiting for the bus. Worth a look.

P.S. I'd tried Middlemarch years ago and given up. Shamed by a Brazilian friend of my son who'd read it at the age of eighteen - in a foreign language - I took it up again recently and enjoyed it. Talented bloke, George.